When you think of meat, you probably think of it as being a solid, unchanging piece of food. But what happens to meat when it’s frozen? Does it weigh the same as it did before, or does it weigh more?
According to experts, frozen meat does indeed weigh more than thawed meat. This is because when meat is frozen, there are water molecules that become trapped inside the meat. These water molecules add to the overall weight of the meat, making it heavier than thawed meat.
But, there is a lot more to this story. Let’s take a closer look at how freezing meat affects its weight, and what this means for you as a consumer.
The Science Behind Meat And Freezing
When water freezes, it expands. This is why ice cubes are larger than the water that they came from. The same principle applies to meat.
When meat is frozen, the water molecules inside of it expand, making the meat heavier. But, there is another factor that comes into play when meat is frozen
As meat freezes, the water inside of it forms ice crystals These ice crystals can puncture the cell walls of the meat, causing the cells to leak. When thawed, this water is released, causing the meat to lose weight.
You can expect approx. 5-10% loss in weight when thawing chicken or turkey, and up to 10-15% loss in weight when thawing ground beef.
So, while frozen meat does weigh more than thawed meat, it will actually weigh less once it is thawed and cooked.
Is There a Way to Avoid This Weight Gain
If you’re worried about the extra weight that comes with freezing meat, there are a few things that you can do to avoid it
One option is to cook the meat before freezing it. This will cause the water inside of the meat to be released and the meat will be less likely to form ice crystals.
Another option is to wrap the meat tightly in freezer paper or plastic wrap. This will prevent the water from expanding and forming ice crystals.
What many professional chefs and butchers do is vacuum seal the meat before freezing it. This will remove all of the air from the package and prevent ice crystals from forming. This is the best way to avoid freezer burn and keep the meat as fresh as possible.
The Benefits Of Freezing Meat:
- From a consumer standpoint, freezing meat can save you money. This is because meat is often cheaper when bought in bulk and frozen. It’s also convenient to have frozen meat on hand for quick meals or unexpected guests.
- Freezing meat is a great way to make it last longer. In fact, frozen meat can last for up to a year without losing any of its quality. That’s because freezing blocks the growth of bacteria, which is what causes food to spoil. So as long as your freezer is set at 0 degrees Fahrenheit or below, your meat will stay fresh.
- Not only does freezing meat extend its shelf life, but it can also help to preserve its flavor. When meat is exposed to oxygen, it begins to oxidize, which gives it a rancid taste. But when it’s frozen, that process is halted, preserving the flavor of the meat for longer. So if you’re ever in doubt about whether your meat is still good to eat, give it a sniff before cooking. If it smells off, don’t risk it; chuck it in the freezer instead.
The disadvantages of freezing meat
While freezing meat has its benefits, there are also some disadvantages that you should be aware of.
- One downside of freezing meat is that it can cause it to lose some of its flavors. This is because ice crystals form during the freezing process and can cause damage to the cell walls of the meat. As a result, when thawed, the meat may be bland and less juicy than if it had not been frozen at all.
- The texture of the meat can also change when it is frozen, as the temperature changes. This is especially true for ground meats like hamburgers or pork sausage. When these types of meats are frozen and then thawed, they tend to become mushy or grainy in texture. This can be off-putting for some people and may make the meat less enjoyable to eat.
How to Store Frozen Meat Properly:
When it comes to storing frozen meat properly, there are a few do’s and don’ts that you should keep in mind.
Make sure that your freezer is set at the proper temperature. The ideal temperature for storing meat is 27°F to 33°F.
If your freezer isn’t set cold enough, your meat will start to thaw and won’t be as fresh when you cook it. On the other hand, when your freezer is turned excessively cold, your meat may become hard and difficult to chew. So if you’re not sure whether your freezer is set at the right temperature, use an appliance thermometer to check.
Another important thing to remember is to wrap your meat tightly before freezing it. This will help prevent freezer burn, that nasty white film that forms on the surface of meat when it’s been stored for too long. To avoid this, simply wrap your meat in freezer-safe paper or plastic wrap before placing it in the freezer.
You should also consider using a vacuum sealer for extra protection against freezer burn. Just be sure that you don’t over-pack the bags, as this can cause them to burst open in the freezer.
Don’t store raw meat and cooked meat together in the same compartment. Raw meat should always be stored below cooked meat so that there’s no risk of contamination.
Another thing not to do is store frozen meat near items that give off strong odors, such as onions or garlic, as these can transfer their smells to the meat.
Lastly, don’t store frozen meat for longer than necessary. As mentioned before, frozen meat can last for up to a year, but it’s best to eat it within three to six months for the best flavor and quality.
Frozen Meat Storage Tips & Tricks
In light of what you have just learned about storing frozen meat, here are a few extra tips & tricks to keep in mind:
- If you plan on thawing and refreezing raw meat a number of times, cook it before freezing it again. This will help prevent bacteria from growing on the surface of the meat during storage.
- When thawing raw meat, always place it on a plate or tray in the fridge so that any juices can drip away from the food. Never thaw raw meat at room temperature as this can cause bacteria to grow quickly.
- If you plan on freezing leftovers, only do so once. Reheating and refreezing cooked meat multiple times can allow bacteria to grow and make the meat unsafe to eat.
Now that you know all there is to know about the science behind freezing meat, hopefully, you’ll think twice before reaching for that package of frozen meat next time you’re at the grocery store. With a little planning and forethought, you can ensure that your next meal is delicious, nutritious, and safe. Would you prefer frozen though it carries more weight?
Does fresh and frozen meat weigh the same?
No, fresh and frozen meat weigh differently. Frozen meat is much heavier than fresh meat. The reason for this is that fresh meat contains liquid, which adds a little bit of weight to it. This liquid is mostly water.
How long can I freeze meat?
The answer to this question depends on the type of meat you are freezing. There are different types of meat that are suitable for freezing. Fresh pork loin, for example, can be frozen for up to 3 months. However, frozen beef will start losing its flavor after 2 months. If you freeze chicken breasts, you can expect them to last about 6 months.
Mark is the founder and head writer of Meat Savory. He’s a passionate meat lover who has been cooking and writing about meat for over 10 years. He is also a meat safety specialist and has been testing and inspecting meat products for over 5 years. Learn More!